Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Its a satifying feeling, when people ask you a tricky question, and you have a perfectly-formed, spot-on answer.
With six little brothers and sisters constantly asking me 'Why?', and a childhood addiction to reading, having a good answer is something I've come to see as part of being me.
There is one question, however, that had been defeating me for decades.
The question was "How are you?"
I want to be polite, to have conversations without unnecessary bumps and jerks. But I love conversations that are fresh and sexy and real, talking about the things that matter. So until recently, I would choose left or right, sheep or goats, and compromise. Sometimes I'd get caught smack in the middle, still trying to sum up my audience, and the level of connection I wanted with them:
Q. "Tess! How are you?"
A. "Umm.... ???(Well this being alive is kinda complicated.....).
Some people started providing the answer for me:
Q."How are you, Good?"
A. "Ah......??(Oh dear. Redundant so early, and in my own conversation).
After years of holding out for an always-truthful, always constructive response to "How are you?", I found one this year. One that I can choose to use Every Single Time. With anyone. Truthfully.
It goes like this:
"I'm fine, thank you'.
Variations also work. "Wonderful! Thank-you for asking!" and "Things are great! Its very good to see you".
What is miraculous about this answer is that this is what its really says:
"Until this moment, troubles galore. But from this moment on, I'm with you, starting fresh. You and me, we are going to have a fun conversation, and I have every bit of equipment I need to have a fine time with you.
I don't need to drag stale stuff into new conversations.
I can turn over a new leaf every few minutes a day. Every new exchange can be a chance to get reminded: I have youth and options and education and sunshine and rain and dancing and I live in a western democracy with hospitals and festivals, and you and I might even do something lovely together and I'm absolutely, positively FINE.